Pride & Glory
Review by Jack Foley
GAVIN O’Connor’s gritty cop drama Pride & Glory may tread an overly familiar beat but thanks to the quality of its performance and the sheer intensity of its visual style, it’s worthy of following in the footsteps of past genre classics such as Internal Affairs, Narc and The Departed.
When four NYC cops are killed in a drugs ambush, chief of police Francis Tierney Sr (Jon Voight) asks his son, Detective Ray Tierney (Edward Norton), to help with the investigation.
But when the trail leads to Ray’s corrupt brother-in-law, Jimmy Egan (Colin Farrell), as well as his own brother, Francis Jr (Noah Emmerich), family loyalties quickly come into conflict with dedication to the badge. And as the bodies start to pile up, no one can be trusted as everyone seeks to cover their backs.
Working from a script co-written with Joe Carnahan (of Narc fame), O’Connor’s film contains a delicious moral ambiguity that also cleverly mirrors current political concerns surrounding the corruption of power by government and military officials.
Some of the metaphors are a little heavy-handed, while the ending is probably over-cooked, but in all other senses this is a gritty, uncompromising look at loyalty and betrayal.
The cast, too, is uniformly excellent with Voight better than he’s been for some time as the conflicted father and Emmerich often heartbreaking as a section head whose career is falling apart at the same time as he’s having to cope with a wife (Jennifer Ehle) who is losing her battle against cancer.
Norton, meanwhile, is as intense as ever as the cop at the centre of proceedings, while Farrell competently mixes violent rage with quieter, more charismatic family moments. It makes some of his extreme actions all the more shocking and some of his scenes are guaranteed to make you wince.
O’Connor’s direction, too, is first-rate, making the most of its raw, gritty (and even jittery) style to heighten both the authenticity and the pressure-cooker intensity of the story. It’s just a shame that the finale can’t quite live up to the high quality of what’s come before. In all other respects, though, Pride & Glory makes for highly recommended viewing.
Running time: 2hrs 10mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: March 2, 2009